November 19, 2002
BETHANY — Mark Marshall ministers to the body, mind and soul of troubled teenagers at Escuela Caribe in the Dominican Republic.
Marshall has served as a nurse, teacher and confidant to about 40 youth at the school for a year. A project of New Horizon Youth Ministries of Marion, Ind., the school welcomes students ordered by their parents or the courts to make changes in their lives. The remote location on a Caribbean island isolates them from pressure from friends, drugs and alcohol.
Marshall, the son Charles and Lela Ruth Marshall of Gilman, said the teenagers are considered low achieving but high potential. They live in houses with about eight to ten other teens and a House Mom and Dad. The family-like atmosphere uses strong discipline and Biblical principles to teach right from wrong.
In the classroom, Marshall teaches the basics of algebra, but also spends a lot of time tutoring students individually.
"They get one-on-one attention, so they’re not falling through the cracks," Marshall said. For many youth, it’s the first time they’ve mastered a skill or earned an A.
"They’re able to see they’re not stupid and they can do it," Marshall said. "That’s a big accomplishment."
Marshall also serves as the school nurse, constantly on call to tend to needs big and small. Nurse duty also means that Marshall often takes students to the doctor. It’s in those long moments sitting in the waiting room that he really gets to know his young patients.
"They will open up and talk to me about different things, sometimes really in depth," Marshall said.
He’s helped teens in the battles with addiction, abuse, rejection and other tragedies.
"Some days I’m just exhausted by what I hear from the kids," he said.
Sometimes the teens tell Marshall that he can’t understand their situation because they have to be at the school, but he’s free to leave whenever he wants. That’s where Marshall corrects them.
"I tell them we’re stuck here together," he said. "God told me I should be here, so I’m here until He tells me to leave."
Marshall first learned about Escuela Caribe during a mission trip with Blue Ridge Christian Union Church of Blue Ridge, to the Dominican Republic two years ago.
Missionary Tim Roots took Marshall to the school, where he sat at a picnic table with the school director. As the director described the school’s programs, "He looked at me and said, ‘You wouldn’t happen to be a nurse, would you?’" Marshall remembers.
Marshall, who just happens to be both a certified teacher and registered nurse, was interested in the school, but wasn’t quite sure if God was calling him to serve at the school. He returned to his home in St. Joseph and began searching for a teaching job. Frustrated when he couldn’t find one, he started working at a prison. After months of prayer, Marshall finally knew God wanted him at the school.
But when he called New Horizons Youth Ministry, he learned the nurse’s position had been filled. He was offered a summer position at Missanabie Woods Academy in the Canadian North Woods, with the promise that he could transfer to the Dominican in September.
Each night at the Canadian camp, Marshall visited the cabins to deliver medication. He always saved one cabin until last and often ended up talking to the boys late into the night. One teen in particular had a lot of questions for Marshall.
"He was searching," Marshall said. "I was able to help him read the Bible and find answers for his questions."
The youth learned that the answer to his problems could be found by asking God to forgive him and discovering new life in Jesus Christ.
Through his ministry, Marshall said he has seen God’s love change many lives for Christ. He recently spent a month-long vacation back home in Bethany. He has a contract to teach at Escuela Caribe for at least another year, but says he’s "stuck there" until God calls him somewhere else
For more information about the program, contact New Horizons Youth Ministries, 1002 S – 350 E, Marion, IN 46953, 800-333-4009 or online at www.nhym.org.